Senator Dianne Feinstein was clear about the challenges ahead for a California Democrat in contentious times.
“Here we are: outnumbered, outvoted, in the West, fairly liberal,” she said.
Speaking before an energetic capacity crowd in San Francisco, Feinstein said her office had received more than a million phone calls about Trump’s cabinet nominees. She described her approach to them: careful evaluation, rather than blanket opposition—an approach too conciliatory for some sign-carrying audience members. Feinstein said that in her role on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she needed to work with the administration officials in charge of national security and felt she could work with Trump appointees James Mattis, defense secretary; John Kelley, secretary of homeland security; and Mike Pompeo, CIA director. But she opposed other nominees because they lacked credentials for the job or they aren’t right for the county, she said. Nevertheless, they went on to win approval.
“The key for me is to figure out how we can begin to win some of these battles.”
Asked about Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, Feinstein wouldn’t say how she would vote. She said she will be particularly interested in his views on gun laws and on women’s reproductive rights.
Feinstein’s visit was greeted by dozens of protesters who marched outside, upset that she had not hosted a traditional town hall. Inside, Feinstein touched on a range of issues from climate change to immigration to health care, in a wide-ranging conversation with Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. His questions included a number that PPIC solicited online in advance of the event.